If there's one constant in this world, it's that breweries never open anywhere near a projected launch date. From the giant "coming spring 2016" banner on the yet-to-open Rock Brothers Brewing to the festival breweries with a full lineup of swag but no brick and mortar locked down, the signs of this phenomenon are everywhere.
These guys are working hard, trying to make their vision a reality, only to be bombarded with endless red tape, permits, licenses, repairs, inspections and other various time drains. It's a tough gig that frequently moves the timetable six months delayed.
Land O'Lakes' In the Loop Brewing spent a solid two years behind the scenes, carefully renovating a 1903 Spanish-style lakefront property for what they planned to be the city's first brewery. No firm opening date was announced (smart move), but if you'd been following their progress on Facebook, as I was, you'd have had good reason to expect them to be pouring by Christmas. Last Christmas.
The final permits cleared and the day finally came early last month. The doors of Land O'Lakes' second brewery — the nearby Craft Life Brewing ultimately beat In the Loop to the punch — opened for business.
There's one catch, though: The brewhouse itself isn't complete. The electrical work on the old property is outdated, and it can't support the brewery's four-barrel system until it's brought up to speed. Enter another delay. I'm told they hope to start pouring their own beer in early 2017.
So why am I writing about an already-delayed brewery that currently only offers guest taps? Because In the Loop is absolutely gorgeous, and it's unlike any other drinking establishment in the area that I've been to. Waiting for the house beers to come on is reasonable, but if I were you, I'd get out there now and take full advantage of the beautiful view as you sip a guest brew while sitting around the fire pit.
In the Loop is comprised of the aforementioned house (a two-story affair, featuring an indoor bar with a cutaway for outdoor seating, as well as a few separate rooms with additional guest seating), a detached brewhouse and a very spacious beer garden that overlooks one of the many lakes that the city gets its name from.
The interior is very homey and rustic, taking a cue from the building's history and infusing the decor with a charming Old Florida vibe. There are cement floors, dark wooden tables topped with lanterns, a fireplace, antique luggage as wall art and a bar area lined in ornate tin panels. It doesn't look anything like your typical beer bar, and it doesn't feel like one, either. That's a plus.
The beer garden is the deciding factor here. It's huge and spread out, giving you more than enough room to stretch out and enjoy the cool (for Florida, anyway) weather. The view is picturesque, and there's side-by-side seating against the lakeside perimeter for maximum appreciation. White bulbs are strung overhead, reaching from the house to an old tree on the opposite side of the beer garden. A beer garden this scenic just wouldn't be possible in Tampa or St. Pete.
Once In the Loop starts pouring its own beers, the initial offerings will include a Citra-hopped IPA, a Vienna lager, a chocolate-espresso porter and a saison. Head brewer Mark Pizzurro interned with Odessa's Big Storm and brewed a bit with Trinity's Escape Brewing, so there's a good chance that these beers will be solid right off the bat.
You could wait until then, but you'd be missing out on a place that's well-worth visiting now. In the Loop is a unique and fantastically scenic place to grab a drink — it's certainly going to be one of my top places in Pasco to grab a brew. When the house beers are pouring, that'll be one more reason to visit.
Contact Justin Grant at [email protected] aintbeat.com; @WordsWithJG.